The flags of three nations were flying as delegations from two European towns visited Buckingham on Saturday, to celebrate the friendship between the three towns
Ralf Köpke, Mayor of Neukirchen-Vluyn in Germany, and Eric Durand, Mayor of Mouvaux in France, were among the visitors who stayed with host families and enjoyed a tour of Buckingham, with special Twinning in the Market entertainment put on to celebrate.
Twinning in the Market was a joyous snapshot of France, Germany and British culture.
A giant black and red deckchair proved a big hit with young and old alike outside the Old Gaol, with visitors lining up to sit in it and be entertained by the wandering mime artist and oompah band.
Dressed in traditional French black and white stripes, the mime travelled round Buckingham town centre, interacting hilariously with everyone he passed, including the French visitors.
Oompah band The Bavarian Strollers got everyone dancing with modern pop classics including 500 Miles.
By early afternoon, a large crowd had gathered, cheering and clapping along to the Brackley Morris Men, who performed traditional dances including a stick dance, and invited spectators to have a go and join in.
After a formal lunch of the three twinning associations, Mayor of Buckingham Margaret Gateley and Mayor of Neukirchen-Vluyn Ralf Köpke signed the English version of the formal twinning between the two towns, finalising the agreement.
All three towns exchanged gifts, including a picture of Mouvaux's newly developed town centre and an engraved wooden post made from native Neukirchen-Vluyn wood.
Each mayor gave a speech, with the Cllr Gateley speaking in French and German as well as English.
All the mayors spoke movingly of the importance of peace between countries in the light of current world events, and the importance of twinning relationships and international friendships between countries.
Cllr Gateley said: “I would never have imagined either such a pandemic or another war in Europe.
"Besides these events, Brexit seems to pale into insignificance.
"In this context, I believe that our twinning relationship is even more important.
"It is a great pleasure to have two reasons to celebrate today - firstly 20 years of our twinning with Mouvaux, and also the second signing of our partnership agreement with Neukirchen-Vluyn.”
Christian Berges, president of Mouvaux's twinning association, spoke via Zoom as he was unable to travel due to Covid.
He said: “I’m very happy that today our new mayors can sign again the twinning agreement that Mark Cole and Harald Lenssen signed originally two years ago.
"I know you have put a lot of effort into this day.
"I would have loved to be there and see Buckingham covered in French, German and English flags, with our institutions stretching out arms to each other, from our town councils to our companies and clubs, and all that under the tutelage of our mayors, town councils and twinning associations bringing the towns together.”
To close the weekend, Ralf Köpke formally unveiled the Neukirchen-Vluyn sign on the fingerpost in Cornwalls Meadow.
The Twinning in the Market entertainment was part funded from the government's Welcome Back Fund, using European Regional Development Fund money to support the safe return to high streets after the pandemic.